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Summary:

Cloud encoding service provider Zencoder wants to support VP8 as soon as absolutely possible, and the company is excited about Google’s plans to open source the video codec at this week’s Google i/O developer conference in San Francisco. However, don’t count H.264 out just yet.

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Zencoder Co-founder Steve Heffernan is excited about the prospects of Google open sourcing its VP8 video codec this week, but he’s also cautioning that it could take a while before VP8 is widely supported. “It could be as much as a year before users have VP8,” Heffernan told me during a phone conversation yesterday.

That’s because he suspects that Firefox, Chrome and Opera will roll out support for VP8 video playback through HTML5 soon after Google’s announcement, but that users will take their time upgrading their browsers.

Zencoder is a cloud encoding solution based on Amazon’s EC3 cloud computing platform that left the nest of startup incubator Ycombinator earlier this year. Zencoder’s parent company Sevenwire has also been cooperating with codec maker On2 on its Flix Cloud encoding platform, and Heffernan told me he got the sense that VP8 was finally seeing the light of day when Google started the acquisition process of On2 last year.

In fact, Sevenwire planed ahead and bought up the domain VP8encoding.com last October, and the company is now planing to support VP8 encoding “as soon as absolutely possible.”

Zencoder isn’t the only encoding company that is banking on VP8. We reported last week that Sorenson Media has acquired the domain VP8video.com. The company didn’t want to comment on its plans for VP8 at that time, but it now looks like Sorenson actually acquired a few dozen domains related to VP8, including VP8Ogg.com, VP8Videoplatform.com and VP8Source.com.

Heffernan thinks that VP8 could keep encoding companies busy, if only for the reason that the codec likely won’t be supported by Apple or Microsoft for the time being. He expects that video providers will likely have to encode their media in at least two formats for a long time to come. “I don’t see H.264 go away anytime soon,” he added.

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  1. Google only needs convert the majority of video on YouTube over to VP8 to drive everyone to upgrade overnight. That would be a great way to drive people to Chrome or firefox. . . ;)

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    1. Ryan Lawler Tuesday, May 18, 2010

      I personally don’t see Google doing that. Yes, I think that they will have VP8 support on YouTube, but doubt they would shut out browsers that don’t support the format. What’s much more likely is that YouTube would auto-detect whether a browser had Flash, HTML5 & H.264 or HTML5 and VP8 support and serve the appropriate format.

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